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Progress2work: March Update

Progress2work is an adult employability project part-funded by the European Social Fund. The programme seeks to support those further from the labour market using new and tried and tested methods.  

The progress2work team have taken March by storm! While the team are preparing to return to face-to-face and group sessions, they’ve been getting involved with lots of different activities and opportunities to make sure the progress2work programme can offer as much as possible to individuals in need of support.

Firstly this month, we’d like to share a good news story from one of our clients in Dewsbury!
Haider came to progress2work after finding out about the us on our Opportunity Centre website. He is hard-of-hearing, and as a result faces certain barriers to employment. After meeting his Employment Key Worker, Allison, and signing up as a client on the programme, he got involved in different programme activities straight away. For the first few meetings, Allison and Haider, worked together to overcome communication barriers. They tested out different tools like whiteboards, communicating via email and text, and Allison decided to start learning British Sign Language (BSL) so she could communicate even better! With Haider’s help, Allison was even teaching other members of the team BSL words and phrases.

Alongside meeting Allison to discuss career options and developing job search skills, he met with Alex, one of our Volunteer Training Coordinators. Haider was really enthusiastic to volunteer and to expand his skills and pursue his own interests, so he worked with Alex to find an opportunity to volunteer which would help him build confidence, and give him more experience to assist his goal in getting back into work. Haider enjoyed helping Allison learn BSL and about his experiences being hard-of-hearing and they decided that they would build a Deaf Awareness presentation. They have been practicing the presentation together, with a plan to present to different groups to help them learn more about BSL and Deaf Awareness. Haider has been building his confidence when practicing, and he and Alex hope to launch their presentation on Deaf Awareness Week, at the start of May. Alex is trying to create more links for Haider to do his presentations in schools and similar settings, which will be a great opportunity to build his experience and confidence even more! Below is a photo of Haider, Allison, and Alex practicing an interactive part of their presentation! The rest of the progress2work team cannot wait to attend one of the first presentations led by Haider.

Note: Safety measures were followed in line with The Opportunity Centre’s Covid-19 Safety Policy, masks were not able to be used as the team and Haider use lip-reading to support communication.

As always, we’ve also been hard at work taking meetings with potential and existing partners – to keep up to date with the developing provisions across West Yorkshire, our networking is continuous!

We’ve had a great introduction meeting with the Works Better Enhanced network in Kirklees, identifying some opportunities to fill gaps in provision, and work together to support more individuals at facing different barriers to inclusion. Inclusion and inclusive employment were also the topics of discussion at the Bradford Employers Network meeting we had the opportunity to attend this month. This included a presentation from Citizen Coin, a Social Currency Scheme preparing to Launch in Bradford in the next few months! It’s been good to see so many organisations which carry the same values of inclusion, support and community working as The Opportunity Centre and progress2work. We’re looking forward to using these links to form closer relationships and open routes of cooperation and to work together to provide support to communities.

This month, we’ve also taken part in two events! The International Women’s Day event we held in partnership with NAFS Fitness was well attended, and we had some great feedback! The women who attended the zoom session got to speak to the progress2work and NAFS teams, and find out more about how both of our projects can support them! Hopefully this was the first of many partnership events we will hold, so we can spread awareness and promote the programme and our partners and showcase the great support we can offer.

We also took part in Careers Live, hosted annually by The Opportunity Centre. The event gives careers professionals, schools, and other organisations the opportunity to discuss current issues and learn about new opportunities and provision in careers guidance. The progress2work team held a session discussing how our programme can help carers and parents of young people access advice and guidance on further education, training and employment opportunities. . It was a great opportunity to discuss our project, and we’re looking forward to more chances to get involved with the wider activities and events held through our Opportunity Centre.

While the past few months have been focused on networking and getting more involved in the different networks within West Yorkshire, the team have still been working with their clients, and building their journeys to help them progress. As we move towards more face-to-face and group sessions, we’re excited to be able to offer this support at the same time, offering a blended service of delivery suiting individuals, remaining conscious of experiences and challenges of coming out of pandemic and accessing services our participants may encounter.

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